The expression side of content, information and knowledge on the web seems to have reached its zenith. It has becomes effortless. People can record their audio/video on a variety of devices and put them in various public platforms. They can write detailed blogs about their area of interest and publish them instantly, praise or criticise something or someone without much difficulty.
Number of comments has become a key success parameter for the author of a piece online. People can share content easily across various platforms and among groups. Content goes viral faster than any other virus we have known!
Highlighting the Facebook phenomenon or Twitter trend would be stating the obvious. It could sometimes take only a Facebook status update or a tweet/retweet to make something trend across the world.
The expression has no restriction whatsoever of media or format. There are guidelines for users who express themselves on the Internet but these too are only intended to improve a content item and not to stop it from going online.
Various tools such as blogs, wikis, and apps have only facilitated the process. So expression in a way has been conquered and will only get better with time. The expression reaching its zenith has set in motion the problem of organization.
The limitless expression and easy access and sharing has created a huge amount of rather unmanageable and ever-growing content. The ‘huge’ needs to be understood from the enormity of anyone on the planet with a mobile or computing device could well say something original, and/or commenting on an existing piece and share what others are saying.
Even if you type an intended string incorrectly on a search engine and hit Enter, you are offered thousands of pages. Hence, the organization of content is indeed a problem that we need to address.
The question is how you store/organize what you ‘like’ or what might need in future? The multitude of content aggregators, instead of solving the problem, has complicated it mainly due to mindless replication of similar content across locations on the web in variety of contexts.
Thus, the organization of content for individuals, groups or institutions is the next big ticket problem that we need to crack to ensure better and smart usage of ever-growing content on the web.
Here are five critical ideas that could be useful:
1. The organization of content should be as easy and on-the-fly as it is with the current tools of expression and communication (Wiki, Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, email etc.).
2. The organization of content should follow a certain framework or structure that ensures better usage of that information. Creating parent-child relationship between topics or concepts to form a comprehensive structure is only the first step.
3. Broad categorization of content and its categorization within specific areas is yet another issue. There will be many types of content depending on the concepts as well as expression. However, it will be great if we could limit these to a certain plausible numbers to ensure it doesn’t become unmanageable by itself.
4. People as a source of knowledge are as important as the storage of physical knowledge pieces. The detailed information about the contributor and commentator is as important as the content itself. Connecting people with content should be an inseparable part of organizing the content.
5. The organization and storage of a content piece should be without delinking it from the original to ensure that comments made later remain intact. This is difficult because there could be comments on an item’s copy in the stored area as it would be in its original location. Some way of showing both separately or together is needed.
These are only some ideas and directions in which solutions have to emerge. This is not an exhaustive list. The practitioners of social media, social networking and content management will have to think about this to ensure that content created over the web is effectively utilized.
S M Nafay Kumail (pictured above) is co-founder, Kreeo (www.kreeo.com), an Enterprise 2.0 technology company & co-author of ‘e-Learning: An Expression of the Knowledge Economy’ (Tata-McGraw-Hill).